Communicating our research results to fellow scientists, but also policy makers, practitioners, journalists and the general public, is a core task in science. It is particularly important if we aim to facilitate evidence-based decision-making and aspire to have a real-world impact with our research.

Visualizations play a powerful role in science communication. They help to attract attention, summarize data and make information easily accessible (see also the previous blog post and recent publication about telecoupling visualizations). Animated and interactive visuals in particular can be highly appealing and effective means for communicating results via websites, blog posts, social media posts and conference presentations. Yet, many scientists seem to lack the time and/or technical capacities to generate appealing visuals that speak to their target audience.

In recent years, a range of visualizations tools has been developed that aim to facilitate the transformation of data into attractive visuals. Often, they are simple to use and do not require sophisticated data visualization skills. In the table below, we present a selection of such visualization tools, which may help us to translate our research results into beautiful visuals.

Type of visualizations Weblink Costs Examples
Various static chart types (e.g. Sankey diagrams) RAWGraphs Free Examples on the RAWGraphs website
Various static and responsive chart types Datawrapper Free (with extended paid versions) Examples on the Datawrapper website
Animated charts, flow charts, story maps, and much more Flourish Free version for public data/projects (with extended paid versions) Examples on the Flourish website


Just 7 Commodities Replaced an Area of Forest Twice the Size of Germany Between 2001 and 2015 / World Resources Institute

Social network graphs, stakeholder maps and causal loop diagrams Kumu Free version for public data/projects (with extended paid versions) Dynamics of concussion / Erin Kenzie / PSU Systems Science, Portland State University
Storytelling with maps ArcGIS StoryMaps To use ArcGIS StoryMaps, you need full access to the Essential Apps Bundle by purchasing an ArcGIS Creator or GIS Professional user type.

Many universities and organizations are already using ArcGIS, so you may be able to get access to ArcGIS via the organization or university you work for.

Global interests collide in Madagascar / Centre for Development and Environment (CDE), University of Bern


“Hungry mills” and their role in Indonesia’s palm oil industry / Centre for Development and Environment (CDE), University of Bern

Infographics Canva Basic features are for free (with extended paid versions) The Global Carbon Budget / World Resources Institute
Interactive world maps MapHub Free Map of our COUPLED project at the bottom of our website
Geographic flow maps Free Examples on the website

Click on the picture below to see an example of a network graph which shows the interlinkages between climate initiatives and the Sustainable Development Goals (created with


Two Degrees and the SDGs

A network analysis of the interlinkages between transnational climate actions and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)

The authors

Johanna Coenen


Leuphana University of Lüneburg
Universitätsallee 1, 21335 Lüneburg, Germany

Gabi Sonderegger

Centre for Development and Environment (CDE), University of Bern
Mittelstrasse 43, 3012 Bern, Switzerland

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